Sunday, July 31, 2011

Uncivil Thoughts, Unintentional Outcomes

Our squabbling political class has had its hands full protecting itself from the people’s indignation. Now a leading Indian minister has the temerity to accuse them of imperiling the security of his country – well sort of.
Speaking to editors of some Nepali newspapers and magazines in New Delhi last week,
Indian Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said the lack of a stable elected government in Nepal has increased the security vulnerability of India.
Bewailing that the governments in Nepal have been of caretaker nature for long time, Chidambaram said a strong and stable administration that cannot focus on day-to-day tasks creates a lot of collateral damage. In the minister’s estimation, it allows Pakistani extremists to use Nepal as a transit point, enables the flow of fake Indian currency notes and perpetuates weak security mechanisms at the Tribhuvan International Airport.
As for a growing concern for his government, Chidambaram suggested he had no information of Chinese involvement in anti-Indian activities in Nepal. (Leave that to the flourishing industry in his midst peddling the line that Beijing is fanning India’s Maoist insurgency through their Nepali cousins.)
Lest Nepalis rise up against Chidambaram’s insinuations, Indian ambassador-designate Jayant Prasad Srivastav stepped in to proffer his governing philosophy. India never intended to interfere in Nepal’s political matters, suggested the man who is expected to begin mending the fences his predecessor, Rakesh Sood, breached. His implication was that if anything did happen to hurt Nepali sentiments, it was all unintentional.
Men like Maoist leader Netra Bikram Chand ‘Biplav’ are simply not impressed. India is plotting to derail the current left government, dissolve the Constituent Assembly and install a rightist government in Nepal by shunning the Maoists, he believes.
India has played the good cop-bad cop routine with great élan. By enduring an acceptable level of criticism from an assortment of Nepali constituencies, New Delhi has been able to reap far greater benefits. Of late, the cost-benefit analysis has skewed the other way. Accordingly, the Indians have been turning up the heat on those who were most energetic in promoting the 2006 realignment – within and outside – on the plea that it would work to New Delhi’s advantage.
Our political class remains too worn out to betray any further signs of discomfort. Their abettors in the garb of civil society are the ones that are cracking up inside. Some do not want Pushpa Kamal Dahal to cede control of the party in any way. (This comes from the same direction that described former king Gyanendra’s decision to sack prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba in October 2002 as constitutional but his appointment of Lokendra Bahadur Chand a few days later as illegitimate.)
Others are doing their best to persuade the Chinese that the Maoists and the monarchists are both Indian minions. (This, again, from quarters that were the first to count Nepalis fortunate to have had Prince Gyanendra Shah’s safe pair of hands intact after the palace carnage before they mocked him as Asia’s most humiliated man. This same constituency lauded the Maoists for having raised arms in defense of the people, unlike the king’s plundering and pillaging soldiers.)
Imagine the pain of these hitherto unaccountable men and women at not being able to vent their sentiments against their handlers. Special consideration for tax arrears have helped to muffle the more affluent, free medical treatment has helped to frighten the infirm of mind and soul, and old-fashioned financial prodding has enticed the worldly wise. For the rest, outright intimidation has worked well. Not a bad record for unintentional outcomes.